Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Enriched Uranium Supply Is Growing - Michael Hirsh (Newsweek)
    Israelis, to whom Iran's nuclear program represents a threat to their existence, are coming to believe that the time for patient diplomacy is running out.
    According to David Albright, one of the most-heeded technical authorities on Iran's program, the Iranians are producing 1.2 kilograms of enriched uranium a day on average, which would give them enough for a bomb by late 2009.
    (In more technical terms, that means they would have enough low-enriched uranium - about 700 kilograms - to enrich up to the 20 to 25 kilograms of weapons-grade needed for a crude fission bomb by then.)

PA Wants Festive Funeral for Coastal Road Killer - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority has asked Israel to hand over the remains of Dalal Mughrabi, the Palestinian woman who led the March 11, 1978, coastal road attack in which 36 people were murdered and 71 wounded.
    Israel is planning to deliver Mughrabi's remains, together with those of scores of Palestinians and Lebanese, to Hizbullah in the context of the new prisoner exchange between the two sides.
    The PA said it wanted to "honor" Mughrabi by holding a big funeral for her in Ramallah.
    Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Mahmoud Abbas, described Mughrabi as a "the first Palestinian woman to carry out one of the most courageous operations in Israel."
    "We want to turn Dalal's funeral into a national wedding, a major celebration," he said.

Lebanese Army Steps In After Tripoli Clashes Kill Four (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Four people were killed and dozens wounded in street battles between rival sectarian camps armed with rockets, sniper rifles and grenades in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Wednesday.
    Fighting raged between Sunni supporters of the parliamentary majority led by MP Saad Hariri and members of the Alawite community.

Swiss Widen Probe into BAE Arms Deal - Balz Bruppacher (AP)
    Swiss authorities have widened a corruption investigation linked to arms deals by the British aerospace company BAE Systems PLC, prosecutors said.
    The investigations center on allegations that BAE used Swiss bank accounts to pay millions of pounds in bribes to officials from Saudi Arabia in return for contracts.

Former IMF Official Confronts Range of Issues as Israel's Central Banker - Bob Davis (Wall Street Journal)
    As the International Monetary Fund's No. 2 official, Stanley Fischer helped guide the global economy through the financial crisis that devastated Asia, Latin America and Russia in 1997 and 1998.
    Now, Mr. Fischer is governor of the Bank of Israel, putting him in charge of a onetime largely socialist economy that has embraced the classic IMF advice of tightening budgets, opening borders to trade and investment, and privatizing companies - and has prospered immensely.
    Over the past five years, Israel has grown at an average of about 5% annually, while inflation was often less than 2%.
    See also Interview with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer - Bob Davis (Wall Street Journal)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • French Oil Giant Cancels Gas Field Project in Iran - David Jolly
    Total, the French oil giant, has decided to back away from planned investments in Iran because of political uncertainty, a company official said Thursday. Total's withdrawal from the country, including a planned huge gas project in the South Pars gas field, makes it the last major Western oil company to give up on Iran amid pressure from Washington. Total's partners on the project - Royal Dutch Shell, the largest European oil company, and Repsol of Spain - pulled out in May. The announcement came after Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Wednesday on Washington and Brussels to punish companies that invest in Iran. (New York Times)
        See also CEO of France's Total Lets Air Out of Iran's Gas Dreams
    Total is one of the few companies in the world thought to have the technology to exploit Iran's gas reserves and the news is likely to come as a serious blow to Tehran. It is now unlikely to be able to boost its gas exports significantly until late next decade at the earliest, the Financial Times said. (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Evidence Mounts that International Sanctions Are Having an Impact - Howard LaFranchi
    Iran's missile tests may be an attempt to cover over Iran's weaknesses and to draw attention away from signs that the international community's efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear program are having an impact. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • U.S. Tightens Sanctions Against Syria - Nancy Waitz
    The U.S. Treasury on Thursday said it blacklisted Syriatel, Syria's largest mobile phone operator, and a chain of duty free shops owned by Rami Makhlouf, a Syrian businessman and cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "Rami Makhlouf uses his access to high-level Syrian government insiders to enrich himself at the expense of the Syrian people," Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement. (Reuters)
  • Iran Fakes Missile Launch Picture After Misfire - Chris Smyth
    A picture from the Iranian news website Jamejam clearly shows three airborne missiles and one that has failed to take off. But a second image released by the PR arm of the Revolutionary Guard seems to have digitally wiped away the embarrassing dud, replacing it with a fourth successful launch, complete with billowing clouds of exhaust and desert dust. Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said, "It's ironic - Iran launches these missile tests to demonstrate might, and instead what they demonstrate is foolishness." "They come across as amateurs by doctoring it. It's laughable." (Times-UK)
  • Israel Displays Plane that Can Spy on Iran
    An Israeli business jet modified to function as an Airborne Early Warning and Control plane went on display on Thursday ahead of its first exhibition at the Farnborough international aerospace event in Britain. The Israeli Air Force has already taken delivery of three of the Gulfstream G550 business jets, converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Such planes, crammed with sophisticated electronic gear, provide intelligence and communications assistance to strike aircraft and would likely play a central role in directing any Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations. An IAI spokeswoman said the decision to display the aircraft had "no connection to the recent news" about Iran, and the timing was "completely coincidental." (Reuters)
        View the Plane (Ynet News)
  • Sudan Leader to Be Charged with Genocide - Colum Lynch and Nora Boustany
    The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will seek an arrest warrant Monday for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, charging him with genocide and crimes against humanity for a campaign of violence that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Darfur region during the past five years. The action by the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, will mark the first time that the tribunal in The Hague charges a sitting head of state with such crimes. Khartoum organized a local Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, and conducted a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that has left more than 300,000 people dead and has driven more than two million more from their homes. The Bush administration accused the government of genocide. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Barak to Tell Bush Time Is Running Out on Thwarting Iran - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    In a series of consultations apparently aimed at coordinating policies against the Iranian nuclear threat, Defense Minister Ehud Barak will head to the U.S. on Monday for talks at the Pentagon, days after Mossad chief Meir Dagan was in Washington for meetings with key intelligence officials. Sources say Israel is urgently trying to convince the U.S. that Iran is closer to passing the nuclear threshold than Washington believes. A week after Barak's visit, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi will head to Washington for his own round of talks. Barak told a meeting of the Labor Party faction: "Israel is the strongest country in the region and we have proven in the past that we are not deterred from acting when our vital interests are at stake."
        A senior U.S. official recently said there was a discrepancy of six to 12 months between the time Israel believed Iran would pass the nuclear point of no return, and when the U.S. felt Teheran will have mastered the nuclear cycle. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Rejects French Plan for Shebaa Farms - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    Israeli defense and diplomatic officials warned on Thursday against a new initiative that calls on Jerusalem to hand over the Shebaa Farms area on the Lebanese border to the UN. The proposal is reportedly the brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will host a meeting Sunday of the newly-formed Mediterranean Union. "The Shebaa Farms are of vital strategic importance for Israel and therefore have security significance. Handing the land over to the UN means that Hizbullah will be there," a top defense official said Thursday. The official rejected the claim that giving up the area would bolster Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and deprive Hizbullah of its raison d'etre, saying that after an Israeli withdrawal, Hizbullah would simply find a new excuse for its existence. As if proving this point, a senior Shi'ite religious leader was quoted in the Hizbullah-linked Al-Akhbar newspaper this week as saying that Hizbullah should liberate former Shi'ite villages now in northern Israel.
        The defense official said the security establishment's recommendation to the political echelon was to relinquish the land only as part of a comprehensive peace deal either with Syria or with Lebanon. Israel completely pulled out of Lebanon when it withdrew its troops in 2000, something the UN also attested to. If Lebanon believes the area is theirs, and not Syria's, then Israel was willing to talk about it with Beirut in direct negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Gunman Wounds Two Israelis in West Bank - Raanan Ben-Zur
    An Israeli was wounded early Friday when a Palestinian opened fire at his vehicle near the Yakir Junction in the West Bank. IDF forces scoured the area for the terrorist, who opened fire at the soldiers and wounded one. The terrorist was killed during the exchange of fire. The injured Israeli told soldiers that the decision to continue driving after being shot at apparently saved his life. (Ynet News)
        Palestinian security officials said the gunman was a member of Hamas who was wanted by Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues, Hamas Arrests Gaza Rocket Cell - Ali Waked
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets toward Israel on Thursday. One of them landed near a kibbutz. Hamas arrested three Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jabalya who fired the rockets, the first such detentions. Hamas had previously said it would not use force against those who violate the truce. (Ynet News)
  • Eight Arabs Arrested for Throwing Firebombs Near Jerusalem - Efrat Weiss
    Israeli security forces arrested eight residents of Issawiya, north of Jerusalem, who have confessed to throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles in and around the capital, according to a report cleared for publication on Thursday. They admitted to being part of a cell of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Europe and Israel: Strengthening the Partnership - Nile Gardiner
    Six decades on from its establishment, Israel continues to fight for its very existence and remains the most persecuted nation in modern history. If Israel is to survive another 60 years, it is imperative that Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and Europe confront the gathering storm and stand up to the biggest state-based threat to international security since the end of the Cold War. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made clear his intentions. Too often in the 20th century, world leaders ignored statements made, only to watch in horror as barbaric actions followed earlier threatening rhetoric dismissed at the time as the words of a madman.
        Every effort must be made to increase the pressure on Tehran through the Security Council and European economic, military, and political sanctions. Major European players such as Germany hold critically important keys to increasing the economic pressure on the Iranian regime. Iran has in recent years derived roughly 35% of its total imports from the EU, and Germany is Iran's biggest European trading partner. The writer is director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. (Heritage Foundation)
  • Former Terrorist's Advice for Fighting Jihad: Think Globally, Act Locally - Rob Margetta
    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee received a first-hand account of how young Muslims become radicalized when Maajid Nawaz, a former member of an Islamist extremist organization, testified Thursday. At 16, Nawaz, a British teenager, became a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group associated with the planning and execution of terrorists acts. He was arrested in Egypt in 2002 and was imprisoned for four years. He returned to Britain, eventually denounced Hizb ut-Tahrir, and became co-director of the Quilliam Foundation, which opposes Islamist theology. (Congressional Quarterly)
  • Foreign Muslim Extremists Heading for Pakistan - Eric Schmitt
    American military and intelligence officials say there has been an increase in recent months in the number of foreign fighters who have traveled to Pakistan's tribal areas to join with militants there. The flow may reflect a change that is making Pakistan, not Iraq, the preferred destination for some Sunni extremists seeking to take up arms against the West. "There are noticeably more non-Pashtun-speaking fighters than this time last year," said Gen. David D. McKiernan, the new NATO commander in neighboring Afghanistan. (New York Times)
        See also Pakistan's Tribal Areas Are Central to NATO's Success in Afghanistan - Joshua Foust and Jeb Koogler
    It is becoming clear that developments in the tribal areas of Pakistan are central to NATO's success in Afghanistan. With continuous cross-border attacks from Pakistan fueling a resilient insurgency, Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared recently that if Islamabad did not move more forcefully against Islamic militants in the tribal region, Afghan forces would enter Pakistan and do it themselves. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Obituary: Palestinian Leader Persecuted After Exposing Arafat Deceit - Sandra Harris
    Jaweed al-Ghussein, who died at age 77 on July 1, was former chairman of the Palestinian National Fund (PNF). In that role, he drew attention to the extensive corruption of Yasser Arafat, and his whistleblowing was met with a sustained campaign of persecution by the Palestinian Authority. In 1984 Ghussein became chairman of the PNF, the financial arm of the PLO. He soon began to suspect that money intended to help families and fighters was being siphoned off by Arafat into secret bank accounts.
        When Ghussein criticized Arafat's backing of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, instigating the first Gulf War in 1990, their relationship collapsed. Six years later Ghussein, sickened by the deceit and hypocrisy that surrounded him, resigned very publicly on Abu Dhabi television when he called for accountability and transparency in the PLO. From that moment on, he was a marked man. An extraordinary campaign of innuendo and accusation was orchestrated by the PA, alleging misappropriation of funds. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Nervous Arab States Fear War in Gulf, But a Nuclear-Armed Iran Is an Even Greater Concern - Ian Black (Guardian-UK)

    • Arab governments are deeply worried about the prospect of war between Iran and Israel and/or the U.S. since several of them would be directly in the firing line if hostilities erupted.
    • Even without the threat of war, Iran's Arab neighbors have long lived in fear of another Chernobyl: the Bushehr nuclear reactor, two miles from the Gulf coast, is closer to six Arab capitals (Kuwait, Riyadh, Manama, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Muscat) than it is to Tehran.
    • Tehran is mistrusted in almost every Arab capital. None believe the claim that it is interested only in civilian nuclear power and has no military ambitions. It is seen as working to establish its hegemony across the Middle East, setting the agenda through allies or "non-state" proxies such as Hizbullah and Hamas.
    • "Perhaps the objective of Iran's frequent threats is to stir up fear among the Gulf states over the repercussions of any U.S. strike against it so that they in turn may pressure Washington into preventing any military action," observed Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed in the Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat. "But this is having an opposite effect from the desired one."

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